The Chariot is usually depicted as a strong male figure holding the reins of two Sphinx-like beasts, one black and one white. Sometimes the beasts are unicorns or other mythical creatures like Pegasus, the winged horse, or griffins. The charioteer is fully armored and carries a scepter suggesting royalty or that he is in the service of royalty. In some decks, he wears a belt and a skirt decorated with zodiacal glyphs, symbolic of time. On his shoulders are crescent moons indicating emotional factors and unconscious habit patterns that need to be changed.
In some decks, the charioteer holds no reins—he uses sheer willpower to keep his steeds moving together in a forward direction. The beasts pulling the chariot signify the opposing forces, which were reconciled at the stage of The Lovers and represent the person's mastery of these opposing forces and control over inner conflicts. This card suggests that before taking on outer enemies or obstacles, it is essential to be in charge of the inner opposites and stop fighting yourself. The Chariot is a symbol for the self and its direction, as is any vehicle, such as an automobile, that appears in a dream.
When The Chariot appears, there is a need to be in control of competing forces, whether these are inner conflicts, people, or a situation in your life that requires you to take command to reach your goals. Like the celebrated but seldom achieved bipartisanship of government, the solution to the problem at hand is to take the middle road between the conflicting elements.
You may feel unequal to the challenge of controlling the multiple factors of a given situation, but if you choose to just go with the flow and make the best of where it takes you, you will succeed. Once you have resolved the conflict within your own mind, even if that requires considerable struggle, you will be able to move forward. To do this, you need firm resolve—self-mastery. With a strategy determined by clear thinking and a sense of purpose, you will overcome all obstacles.
Receiving The Chariot in a reading, depending on its position in the spread, is generally favorable. It indicates you have the means to triumph over all obstacles and stay the course you have set for yourself. It can also mean that assistance is on the way as a result of your own strength and determination. It may suggest you are in the process of transforming yourself and your ways of thinking and behaving to create a firm foundation from which to go forward and achieve your desires. At this time you are keenly aware of how to use your past experience to reach a major goal and you are in touch with deep inner resources.
At a literal level, The Chariot relates to travel and transportation and could mean changing your mode of transport, such as buying a new car or traveling by rail or some other form of wheeled vehicle.
The Chariot is related to the myths in many cultures. Helios, the Greek sun god, drove a chariot of fire across the heavens. In the Hindu culture, the Lord of the World drives his chariot along the road of time. In ancient Rome, the god of war, Mars, was depicted triumphantly riding to victory in his chariot. These mythic images suggest that the charioteer has triumphed over all conflicting forces, found his true path in life, and is now being guided by intuition and a sense of clear and unambiguous purpose.
Also known as “Le Chariot,” The Chariot corresponds to the number seven, which is linked with the hidden rhythms of the universe, and to the Hebrew letter Zayin.
Victory is assured! Things are moving fast, and transition is occurring rapidly. You are holding things together successfully, uniting opposite energies to stay on track. This is a situation where you are completely, totally involved, and happily so. Whatever task is at hand can be accomplished. Though the pace is faster than usual, you are attuned to the rhythm of it and keeping up with the changes that are happening—at your job, in a relationship, or in some community or worldly involvement. You are sensitive to the minor adjustments you must constantly make to keep things going in the right direction.
The wheels of the chariot signify the ever-changing life cycles. The animals are pulling in opposite directions, and the charioteer is holding the reins taut to keep the beasts in tandem—a symbolic statement of the need to master and reconcile conflicting forces, both inner and outer.
When The Chariot is reversed, the changes and transitions are happening internally, but at a rapid rate. Things are moving so fast that you feel out of control and seem to be struggling to keep your head above water. It may seem that you are being pulled in two directions at once and are stressed out by the pressure. It's time to choose a direction carefully, to accept the process of inner transition as a positive one, but to do so with clarity about your direction in life. The more you can tune in to your own transition process, the more control over it you can exert.